With all their charting of sea and land on all seven continents, it may seem like Google Street View vans and maps have conquered the world. However, Silicon Valley’s kingpin is counting on one last explorer to help plant their flag on paths less taken: you.
Users can now create and share their own street view routes with photos and location data, compliments of a new Google Maps feature in the Views section. By using Google’s Photo Sphere feature, users can manipulate a panoramic photo into a 360-degree virtual tours, just like the famed Google Street View vans.
Since 2012, users have been able to attach Photo Spheres onto Google Maps, but now they can actually combine the images to create a navigational tour. The Photo Spheres can be made public on Google Maps’ main page, but user street views can only be made public if they are included in a link or embedded on a Web page.
“We are excited to see the different types of Street View experiences that everyone will contribute. For example, this feature can now enable environmental non-profits to document and promote the beautiful places they strive to protect,” Evan Rapoport, Google Maps and Photo Sphere Product Manager, wrote in a blog post. ”It also opens up a new tool for photographers to showcase diversity in a specific location — by times of day, weather conditions or cultural events — in a way that Street View currently doesn’t cover.”
While Rapoport hopes the new feature will “enable people to share and witness the beauty and breadth of our planet,” allowing the public to create Street View maps is bound to dredge up scenes weirder than pitchfork-wielding scuba divers and people in the buff. Rapoport also wants users to document their favorite neighborhood hangout, which will surely be attempted If and when Google Glass goes mainstream. Unless, of course, your favorite local hangout is the 5 Point Cafe or the Lost Lake Cafe in Seattle.
Credit: Evan Rapoport, Google